Thursday, May 3, 2007

Getting Published

Paul Simon sang about 50 ways to leave your lover. If instead of a song, Simon's work was a book manuscript, how many people do you think would have a chance to read it? One of the most difficult tasks for any unpublished writer is getting his work published. While there are more ways than ever before to get your writing read, it seems there are more roadblocks to accomplishing that goal.

The traditional route to publication means finding a literary agent to represent you to the publishing companies. It's more difficult to sign a contract with an agent than it is to contract herpes from a virgin. Evidence of this is the collection of rejection emails I have begun to amass since I have been actively marketing The Ghosts of November. Originally self-published nine years ago, I wanted to go down the traditional trail this time around. Self-publishing, while expedient, is not very satisfying. I think it will be much more fulfilling to actually sell the book to a publishing house. Then all you have to do is edit and review and approve and then wait for the baby to be born. That's when the real work starts though, marketing.

If the quest to obtain a literary agent fails, the motivated writer can always pitch his work to small presses. That takes some effort and no small amount of postage (most small presses do not take electronic submissions), not to mention the trees that dedicate their lives to turning your work into hard copies. But there are a multitude of small presses around and that will be my next strategy should I be unable to convince an agent to represent me.

My wife, Rebecca Bibbs, is toying with the idea of self-publishing her novel, The Nubian Codex. Since she had two editors who wanted to see her work when she attended the 2007 Algonkian Pitch Session, I discouraged that method of publishing. For me its a matter of "Been there, done that," for her its a matter of getting the best bang for the bucks and I have got to believe just being chosen by two editors at Algonkian is a sign from the heavens that she is destined to find a publisher.

Of course there is always the e-book route. That's really a last resort in my estimation. Unless your name is Stephen King, obscurity is bound to become your friend if you choose this method of getting published.

So I am giving it until the end of the month for an incredibly discerning literary agent to realize the uniqueness and marketability of my work and send me a contract. Then small presses, expect some packages from Indianapolis to be arriving in your mail.

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